With a their backs to wall Tuesday evening in San Jose, Costa Rica the U.S. MNT U20 squad earned a desperately needed 4-1 win over Haiti without looking particularly good, despite the scoreline.
Coming into this match on the heels of a desultory 1-0 loss to Panama in the opening match of the CONCACAF Championship/World Cup Qualifying Tournament Tab Ramos’ Young Yanks needed to collect three points from this match if they hoped to avoid an ignominious early exit.
The early signs were far from positive as the Americans repeated the pattern of the first match when they failed to apply any threat to the Haiti goal despite dominating possession.
Then at the 15 minute mark inattentive defending coupled with slow reactions from goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann put the U.S. in a hole that could have proved fatal to the team’s World Cup dreams.
A routine cross sailed into the box by Jonel Desire found its way to Kenley Dede who gratefully finished his chance to put the U.S. on notice. Dede slipped his mark, Marlon Fossey, after the ball eluded Tommy Redding, who made an unorthodox and unsuccessful effort at a clearance.
Klinsmann was unable to get to Dede’s slo-mo floater and the U.S. was in trouble.
In trouble because basics as simple as trapping and passing seemed beyond Ramos’ charges in the opening 105 minutes of this event but a couple of new starters would get the U.S. back in this game.
In the 28th minute Eryk Williams, a non-factor in a little over 20 minutes versus Panama, picked out Jonathan Lewis with a fine pass over the Haitian defense that the NYCFC draftee controlled in stride only to be chopped down for a U.S. pk. Brooks Lennon made no mistake and the Americans were back in not only the game but the World Cup hunt.
The second half was a whole new ballgame as the U.S. took advantage of a couple blunders by the opposition to finish the match with a three-goal flurry between the 52nd minute and the 58th minutes.
Luca De La Torre got it rolling when Haiti goalkeeper Isaac Rouaud roamed from his net on a corner kick only to gently slap the ball to De La Torre’s feet. The Fulham prospect did the rest and the beginning of the end had arrived for Les Grenadiers.
Moments later a poor clearance was intercepted by Lewis, who fed Jeremy Ebobisse, who shuttled the ball to Lennon and suddenly it was 3-1 U.S.A. Lennon completed his hat-trick in the 58th minute and the Americans were home and dry and looking ahead to Friday evening’s tussle with St. Kitts and Nevis.
Given that St. Kitts and Nevis’s tournament thus far has consisted of a 5-1 loss to Haiti and a 5-0 defeat to Panama, a U.S. win and advancement to the final round of the tournament is a reasonable expectation.
That next round figures to be somewhat tougher for Ramos’ crew, although a trip to South Korea in May ( the U20 WC runs from 5/20-6/11) should still be in the cards.
We have already noted the negatives, inability to make possession count, unacceptably bad basic ball control and passing issues, so what about the positives?
The U.S. received a promising performance out of Jonathan Lewis, who provides some threat on the wing, even if his touch can let him down. Jeremy Ebobisse showed that he can be a real handful when he finally received some service and Ramos will be pleased to see Lennon and De La Torre get on the board. The duo is key to this team’s success and nothing boosts a players confidence like scoring a goal, never mind three.
Next up: U.S. vs St. Kitts and Nevis
Friday@5:30 Estadio Ricardo Saprissa; Tibas, Costa Rica UDN, Facebook Live
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 3 4
HAI 1 0 1
HAI – Kenley Dede (Jonel Desire) 15th minute
USA – Brooks Lennon (penalty kick) 28
USA – Luca De La Torre 52
USA – Brooks Lennon (Jeremy Ebobisse) 53
USA – Brooks Lennon 58
USA: 1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 2-Marlon Fossey, 4-Tommy Redding, 6-Justen Glad, 3-Danny Acosta; 10-Luca De La Torre, 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (Capt.) (16-Jeremiah Gutjahr, 68), 7-Eryk Williamson; 17-Brooks Lennon (19-Coy Craft, 81), 9-Jeremy Ebobisse, 20-Jonathan Lewis (11-Sebastian Saucedo, 71)
Subs not used: 12-JT Marcinkowski, 13-Auston Trusty, 14-Aaron Herrera, 15-Jonathan Gonzalez, 18-Emmanuel Sabbi
Head coach: Tab Ramos
HAI: 1-Isaac Rouaud; 19-Stevenson Guillaume, 5-Emerson Georges, 3-Odilon Jerome (Capt.), 13-Francy Pierre; 8-Jonel Desire, 14-Ivenet Noel (10-Roberto Badgio Louima, 61), 15-Alessandro Campoy, 6-Brian Chevreuil (4-Fardyson Pierre, 85), 11-Kenley Dede; 20-Richelor Sprangers (9-Ronaldo Damus, 61)
Subs not used: 12-Josue Duverger, 7-Jimmy Shammar Sanon, 16-Abraham Duverger, 18-Dutherson Clerveaux
Head coach: Wilfrid Montillas
Stats Summary: USA / HAI
Shots: 16 / 12
Shots on Goal: 6 / 3
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 4
Fouls: 21 / 23
Offside: 6 / 1
HAI – Emerson Georges (caution) 39th minute
HAI – Emerson Georges (caution) 82
HAI – Emerson Georges (ejection) 82
HAI – Fardyson Pierre (caution) 90+1